Parenting Success In Small Steps

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

The key to building the family of your dreams is to measure your success in tiny steps. Stop looking for the big changes and focus on the small. Eventually you will get to the big ones but only one tiny step at a time.

Parents have a shortage of time. The quickest way end a parents dream strategy is feeling “overwhelmed.” Map out your day with your family in terms if hours and minutes. Build in time cushions so that you can get everything done. Eliminate anything that is not absolutely essential to the type of relationships you want and deserve to have.

Dream Parenting is about speaking into the lives of our children and awakening them to the reality of who they are designed to be. Not all children what us to speak to them. They feel they know best. How do they come up with that idea? Do they see us as poor models about how to live life? Do our actions not inspire them to be designed like their designers? Design is the starting place. Destiny is the goal. They carry our DNA but we have to imprint and inspire them to be all they are designed to be, so they can live out their destiny. Our dream family is not just a product of our imaginations alone. It is birthed in the union with those we have birthed. 

Our children turn away from our moral codes when we react more to fear than to promises about our future. Fear is always a reaction. Promise is a response! Think about it for a few minutes. As parents, too many of our past disappointments are speaking into our present/presence and we do not display a design our children want to emulate. Dreams are not born out of fear. Dreams are produced by a strong faith in the knowledge of who we are. Not what we do and not based on what our children do. 

I hope this is not confusing you. You can’t build a dream family by managing behavior. That’s the bottom line. You have to build it by reminding yourself and your children about who you are designed to be. If you don’t yet understand that, then this is the first step in your new family blueprint. 

I think I should create a handout to go with this…Be on the lookout for one. in the meantime, join our MORE list and get past Dream Parenting Handouts and more: Click here now.

We live in a broken world, full of broken families and broken hearts, resulting in anger, depression and anxiety. When people come to see a family therapist, they want change but they want other members of the family to change, not them. How much pain do we have to go through before we are willing to do something different than we have always done before? Listen to Ron Huxley, Family Therapist, as he shares some insights on how to create love and honor in the home to have real, permanent change in the family. 

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Battle of Wills or Battle of Beliefs?

Many parents get into power struggles with their children over everyday tasks like homework, chores, bedtime, eating all their dinner, etc. This battle of wills can become a daily hassle that will wear out the most resilient parent.

In its extreme form, children can develop an oppositional defiant disorder which is characterized by negative, argumentative, disobedient, and hostile behaviors toward parents and authority figures. They refuse any guidance or direction from adults. Relationships turn into competitive matches where every interaction is geared toward the need to win. The subject of the argument no longer matters. The parent and child are armoring themselves to win the battle no matter what the topic. The reality is that parents can’t win every “battle”. That is exhausting! Research indicates that this battle creates even more oppositional behavior in children and the moral of the story ends up being that no one wins!

What Is Really The Problem?

The problem is not the behavior but the beliefs of the contestants in the power struggle. Instead of trying to change behaviors and win the battle of homework or chores, try to change the belief system and win over their heart. That can be difficult for the parent in the middle of a heated argument. It is even more difficult after dealing with defiant children for days, weeks, or months of non-stop fighting.

Parents are not prepared for tools of the heart that change belief structures. Most parenting tools focus on behaviors that attempt to mold children into obedient, submissive people. This is a perfect set up for oppositional defiant behavior to accelerate. Tools of the heart focus on changing oneself first and then work on creating a connection. It doesn’t confront the person. It confronts the beliefs that drive the person to act in opposition and defiant ways.

The Misunderstanding of Power in Relationships.

One of the beliefs that need to be addressed is the idea that in order to be powerful I always have to win. Not only do I have to win but you have to lose so that if you being hurt starts to the sign that I win. The child can get into the habit of hurting people, animals and destroying property to prove they have power. When the parent counters attack or overpowers the child in any way they reinforce this dysfunctional idea. The more realistic belief is that we can both be powerful by making appropriate choices and managing ourselves. Self-control is the ultimate example of power. The parent must model this in the home. The only thing you can guarantee complete control over is when “I manage me.” I cannot manage you 100% of the time. When I try to manage you, I set up a revenge mentality in our relationship. You will do what I want in this battle but you will look for ways to win the next battle.

Focus on Feedback.

Instead of an argument, we want to focus on feedback. Replace “you messages”, as in “you always” or “you never” or even “you are” with “me messages”, such as “here’s how this situation is affecting me”. Don’t hold up a mirror to child’s face to inform them of how “ugly” they are acting. Hold up the mirror to your heart and share what you are feeling. This can be a risky act, on the part of the parent, but vulnerability is what leads to intimacy and without an exposed heart there can be no heart to heart connection.

Questions are useful tools for parents even if you already know the answer. A dominating parent tells the child what to do or what they are not doing right. A parent who values responsibility provides lots of opportunities for the child to make choices. The parent allows the child to voice their needs with questions such as “what do you need in this situation?” or “what are you going to do about this problem?” Don’t be quick to jump in and solve the problem with the child. Let them tangle at bit at the end. You want their brains engaged and trained in solving their own problems.

Using questions help the parent and the child stay focused on the person, in the problem, instead of focusing on the problem in the person. This is an important distinction. Keep asking how your child is going to clean up the mess. You aren’t saying they are a mess but there is this mess of school grades or unclean rooms. If they don’t know to clean up their mess because they are used to the parent always tell them how to clean it up or clean it up for them, start giving them some ideas they can try. If they act like they don’t care about cleaning up the mess, give them choices that might be completely undesirable. “One choice might be to do all of your brother’s chores for a week to pay them back for breaking their toy. Would that be a way you can clean up this mess?” Of course, they don’t want to do that! The point is to get them engaged in this conversation to find a solution they would prefer. If they still refuse any responsibility for their actions, stay calm and wait this out. At some point, the child will want something from the parent and at that moment the parent can return to the mess that is still needing to be cleaned up. Re-ask the question of how they would like to clean up the mess. This teaches self-responsibility without ever breaking a connection with the child. You continually express your belief that they are powerful people who can make a good choice, if not today, then tomorrow or the day after that or the day after that until they finally learn to manage themselves well.

Do You Value Being Right Over Relationship?

If a parent insists on lecturing and using their authority in dominating ways then they are communicating that being right is more important that relationship. Relationships take time and this mess that the child has made can take as long as it needs to get cleaned up but it will get cleaned up. The value of learning responsibility and how to handle freedom and make good choices is more important than being right on this issue we are at odds with each other. Stubbornness is the hallmark of oppositional defiant behavior. Use this same energy to regulate your reaction to stand firm.

There are a lot of false beliefs in the parenting community that parenting educators perpetuate. We have put you in a difficult position and given you a difficult requirement that can set you up for failure. As a parenting educator, I apologize! Let’s learn together on how to build powerful people in intimate relationships with one another.

Parents don’t have to win every battle…

Parents can take back their home life and create an atmosphere of love and peace. The strategy is battling a series of change campaigns over many weeks, months and perhaps years. Don’t lose the war due to impatience or stretching yourself too thin by fighting every battle of every day. You are outnumbered! You don’t have the same amount of physiological energy as your children. Be strategic and fight key battles on specific hills and don’t give up until that battle is won. These hills are territories of the heart that have been taken over by fear, resentments, unforgiveness, entitlements, When they are taken over, relationships become cold and defenses are built. Risk, through reconciliation and repentance of mistakes are the weapons that bring these defenses down.

Parents have to be invested in creating a culture of celebration, creativity and hope in the next generation. When parents wake up their hearts need to beat wth the urgency to empower their children and instill values of perseverance, positivity and generosity. This can’t and won’t happen unless parents model it and rearrange their schedules to make sure this is allowed in the home. Change the atmosphere you and your children breath if you want them to have, inside of them, the things you say you want them to be and do! 

Parents: The Source of Children’s Re-sources

 

Children must have a source of satisfaction and security in order for them to re-source their ability to manage themselves and their emotions. A positive parental source responds to a child’s need and satisfies it. This cycle of distress and restoration builds trust, security, and connection. Fortunately, parents only have to be “good enough”. There is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. There are many opportunities in parenting to prove you are a trustworthy “source” of support. This gives children the chance to “re-source” that support in themselves.

Parents don’t necessarily need a new idea as much as they need a new perspective on their child’s heart. What is your child’s uniques gifts, talents, perspectives, dreams, needs, desires, wants, fears, joys, passions, etc? The best parenting tool is seeing children through their eyes. 

Your Child’s Mess Is Your Message

by Ron Huxley, LMFT

Many parents use control to manage their children’s behavior. Why wouldn’t they with parenting books and programs teaching them to do that very thing? Unfortunately, control is risky business, that when it works, leaves parent and child uncertain about who really won the battle. Rather than try to control a child, parents need to encourage self-control. This develops from taking responsibility for their actions and learning to clean up their own messes when they make them and make them, they will. This is where the mess becomes the message!

After a child makes a mess, such as hitting a sibling, lying to parents, not completing their chores, they need to figure out a way to clean it up. Messes create disconnection in relationships but cleaning them up re-connects them. The process of discovering how to clean them up is where a child learns self-control and parents find more joy in parenting. 

Parents do not get angry at messes. They require their child to clean up their mess. Because of age and inexperience, they may not be able to come up with a solution but one can be offered, by the parent, or they can try their own and then another try until the mess is completed. Parents who feel powerless don’t realize that they control the environment of the home. Children always want or need something and parents can simply state: “Of course you can have a snack sweetie as soon as you clean up that mess you make with your brother. And, by the way, I took out the trash for you since you were too busy playing video games and so you can do my chore of folding all the laundry. Take your time sweetie, the snack will be there when you are done.” 

Instead of a snack, the child may want to sit go to the neighbors to play or go to the shoe store to get new shoes or sit down with the family for dinner. The child can decide how long they want to take to clean up their messes and get the things that the parent has control over. Never fear, arguments, tantrums, screaming fits and vows of running away may be involved. They are ways the child believes he or she can control the parent. Parents must be patient and model how control is an illusion for them as much as it was for the parent. This information will serve them well in all their relationships for life. 

The good news is that this process will only take a few times (days?) until the child realized the parent means what they say and discovers cleaning up a mess is so much easier than testing the parents resolve. 

For more information, check out http://www.lovingonpurpose.com/podcast/ or https://www.loveandlogic.com/